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 Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner

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PostSubject: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:01 pm

Now that you've read the story, respond to one of the following points:

1. Describe the relationship between mother and son

2. Discuss the importance of setting in this short story

3. What psychological undertones are at work in this story?

4. What role does the father play in this story?

5. How would you describe Lawrence's writing style to someone who hasn't read his work?

6. What do you think about the ending of the story?

7. What image/events strikes you the hardest from this story?

I look forward to reading all of your responses.
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LukeUlrich42

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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Tue Sep 12, 2006 4:41 pm

I believe that the boy is influenced at an early age by his mother, and this causes him to feel that his family is inadequate. His mother tells him that their family is unlucky, and this warps his perception of reality, as well as his psyche in general. He comes to believe that he must do all he can to help his family attain more money. This shows that that he possesses a pronounced ego and that he has a hyperactive desire to attain large sums of money for his family's use. While on his horse, he obviously seems mentally affected, perhaps to the level of a slight pyschosis. In all, I feel that the boy is disturbed by his feelings of familial inadequacy, and this causes his eventual mental breakdown, and finally his death.
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CassieG

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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Tue Sep 12, 2006 5:16 pm

The most memorable image from this story for me is the picture of the little boy, Paul, riding his rocking horse. I get a mental picture of him being almost possessed, and obsessed with rocking and rocking until he gets his "luck." It presents a quite disturbing image of a young boy on a small rocking horse in a dark, upstairs room. It also attaches emotional value because the reader pities the boy so much for having his life consumed by the horse and his necessity to please his mother.
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phNguyen

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PostSubject: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Tue Sep 12, 2006 5:44 pm

I was kinda disappointed at the ending. I thought that his luck would be able to get rid of the voice the whole family keeps hearing in their house, but as more money came in, the louder the voice became. Moreover, I thought that the son's good intentions would melt his mother's cold heart towards her family. I believe that the author should have made the ending a little bit more happy or at least end in a way that doesn't feel so abrupt.
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Monika

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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Tue Sep 12, 2006 7:34 pm

Well, I don't agree that the ending was a dissappointment. In fact, I thought the ending was necessary. If he hadn't died the boy's mother would have made him make more and more money for the family, because there is no way she or the voices in the house could ever be satisfied. The vocies in the house seemed to represent the human nature of always wanting more than what you have. As soon as you get what you want you want something else, something better and newer. Paul needed to die to escape this.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Tue Sep 12, 2006 7:40 pm

Well first off, this story is definately among one of the oddest stories I have read and I can understand why it came after "The Yellow Wallpaper": there are some very crazy people.

After reading the story, I thought that the father had a very miniscule role in the story. He is described as a man with a small income but an expensive taste, which explains why the family has run into a money problem. Regardless of the attempts of the parents to better the situation, the father "seemed as if he never would be able to do anything worth doing." With that statement and the mother's belief of being very unlucky to be married to the father, it is not hard to see where the inspiration for Paul came from. I suppose that the father merely served as the counter-image of what Paul wanted to become, and as a result, Paul, in a way, took the role of his father (bringing money to the home, at least). If anything, it seemed as though Uncle Oscar and Bassett had a much greater influence on Paul.
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bri fej

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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:13 pm

CassieG wrote:
The most memorable image from this story for me is the picture of the little boy, Paul, riding his rocking horse. I get a mental picture of him being almost possessed, and obsessed with rocking and rocking until he gets his "luck." It presents a quite disturbing image of a young boy on a small rocking horse in a dark, upstairs room. It also attaches emotional value because the reader pities the boy so much for having his life consumed by the horse and his necessity to please his mother.

I agree - Paul on his rocking horse reminded me of the little boy from "The Shining." Yikes.
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andrewh



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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:35 pm

I agree on what Luke said about the boy being a little psychotic on the rocking horse. But I think that the boy made it his mission or destiny to prove to his mother that he was of some luck and thatís why he focused all of his energy towards proving that. Therefore he used all of his luck and it was sad that he died in such away where he didnít really get to express any of his emotions on being lucky.
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NataliaJones

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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:39 pm

How would you describe Lawrence's writing style to someone who hasn't read his work?

I decided to choose a question no one had answered yet. When I read this short story, the pages never seemed to stop flipping. I read it in an entire setting, all sense of time was gone to me and I was immersed in this absorbing story. The beginning was as important as the middle and end, and the relationships were clearly cut as well as the writing and the story. Incredible images were created with a few woven paragraphs; the image of the boy riding the rocking horse could be imagined going at a breaking rocking speed, and those fiery, close-set eyes of the boy and his wavy black hair could not have been more real to me. His style is his own, and few I know possess that kind of zest that can make such a simple story so absorbing, such a cute little boy seem so devilish, and the plotline and message were so clear by the end.

I would definitely say that this short story is better than a lot of novels that I have read, but more because of the style than because of the story. Any other author could have written the same story, but I don't know if any of them would have come close to the way Lawrence had written it. The decision to kill off the boy was essential to the story's message, yet I don't know any other author that would really kill off the boy at such a young age with so much lucky potential, even though he was possess they may have written it off that it was not so and created a happily ever after. I agree with Monika, it was definitely a great choice of Lawrence to pound the message to his readers with the drastic death of an innocent boy. It sticks with you better than a happily ever after, and it's a better style of writing.
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ssawa



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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Wed Sep 13, 2006 4:20 pm

The reltionship between the son and mother seemed very odd, especially when in the beginning of the story it was hinting towards the fact that the mother didn't love any of ther children. I thought the boy was trying to show to his mother that he was not like his father, which when described, seemed almost inadequate to have a family in the first place. I thought the boy was trying to prove to his mother that he is worthy enough to be her child.

I had no clue why he died. I thought the end was irrelevant to the rest of the story.
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LWhite1

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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Wed Sep 13, 2006 4:23 pm

See, what strikes me as funny in the relationship between mother and son in this story is that, in some ways, their roles are reversed; the son is taking care of the mother in the one way that all parents are responsible for their children- financially. The mother is, daresay, "childish" in her whimsical and incessant spending habbits, whereas the son is saving and storing his money, letting it grow, and making selfless decidions about its distribution.

As children, we all do things for praise. "Mommy, I swept the floor, aren't you proud of me?" or "Daddy, look at the pretty picture i made for you!" We do these things for a hug, or a smile, or a gentle pat on the back because we feel the need and the desire to please our parents, and we're sure to let them know when WE were the ones who had helped daddy with dinner, or finally could tie our shoe. What strikes me as odd in this story is that the boy demonstrated none of that desire to be recognized that comes with childhood. He wants to give money to his mother to help her, yet willingly does so anonymously. It shows his genuine desire to help his mother, yet lack of the need for recognization for his acts. In other words, his is making a very grown-up sacrifice, if you will. I don't know, just some food for thought.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Wed Sep 13, 2006 5:28 pm

The event that strikes me the hardest in this story is how the mother has a horrible relationship with her son and doesn't appreciate him at all. It's really sad because the readers know that the son cares about his mom and that is why he wants to get lucky - so he can help his mom get money. It is just terrible to see the mom get the money and not even appreciate it, and on top of it all, it seems like the money takes over her, because after getting it, she becomes even colder towards her son. It would have been so different if her son told her the money was from him. Also the fact that the son dies at the end of the story makes me even sadder knowing there was no loving mother-and-son relationship.
Overall though, the story as a whole is extremely interesting and I really like the way the author writes. I love short stories too so it's perfect!
study
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Sullivan4



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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Wed Sep 13, 2006 5:39 pm

#1
I believe the son is pressured into insanity due to his attempts to please his mother and make her proud of him. He sees the relationship that she has with her husband, and how horrible it is and he sees the opportunity to make her proud and become #1 in her eyes. The fact that he is the only son also helps give an edge to the story, making the son isolated. He seeks her approval and acceptance because he can find none elsewhere. The mother is the cause of the boys insanity and she doesn't even realize it.
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ANunn1



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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Wed Sep 13, 2006 6:47 pm

[i]The Rocking-Horse Winner[/i] was definitly another strange story, but of a different breed than The Yellow Wallpaper. Much like the first story the main characters end up the victom of a mental breakdown. In The Yellow Wallpaper the decline of the main character is obvious while it sneaks up on the reader in The Rocking Horse Winner. In response to question seven, the final scene when the boy is described rocking crazily the image of the possessed girl in The Exorcist came to mind immediately. I believe in conjuring up that image it represented a mission accomplished by the author to envoke such a disturbing mental picture. I also feel that the strange ending was a perfect conclusion to a very strange story. It not only depicted the boy's devotion to generating luck, but instilled the reader with a foul taste in the mouth and possible future phobia rocking-horses.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Wed Sep 13, 2006 7:02 pm

If we are going to talk about psychological undertones here, then Freudís theory of child development is certainly related to this story. According to Freud, during the phallic stage and Oedipus complex, the boy in the story, Paul, has psychological and unconscious sexual feelings towards his mother, and he is competing with the father for her attention and love. Now this particular story may not have such strong sexual undertones, but the son definitely is trying to satisfy his mother of something she wants desperately.
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PostSubject: Ending of the story   Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:01 pm

The ending of the story took such a dramatic turn. Paul was so obssessed with winning and bring luck to the family that he actually got killed from riding the rocking horse. I think his death was caused by the pressure pressed upon him by his parents unconsciouly. The mother kept complaining about the lack of luck in the family, which triggered Paul's initiation to ride the horse and bet on the race. Both parents wanted to live with luxurious style when they don't have enough money, this atmosphere with "whispers" made Paul feeling anxious and unsettled. Stability and love are important and necessary elements in Paul's childhood, and those are the components that the parents didn't give him enough. Paul would not have died if his parents acknowlege the core of the problems in the family.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:24 pm

After reading the story, I've come to realize that the mother has a different style of parenting. She doesn't seem to be like the mother in one of those happy, perfect stories who love to take care and nurture. In this story she seems to be quite the opposite. She seems to have no belief or faith in her son and doesn't take his opinions seriously. But the son seems very eager to please and gain his mother's attention. He is very willing to do what it takes to make his mother happy.

I think the fact that the mother's name was never mentioned in the story helps mothers who read this story reflect on how they treat their children. It shows that they should listen closely to what their children has to say because even though they may be young, they still have meaningful things to say.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:26 pm

the issue here is that from the very begenning of the story, Pauls mother feeds him the idea that to be successful you need to be rich. to be rich you need to have alot of luck. the mother is far to emotionally distant from her son in this story, and there also seems to be alot of sexual innuendo between them. Paul feels the need to satisfy his mother and make her proud of him through his luck, which only intensifies her greed, and makes her worse instead of appreciative. in the end the pressure to please kills him.
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knina



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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:28 am

The interaction between the mother and son was odd towards the end of the story:
"I won't think much about them, mother. You needn't worry. I wouldn't worry, mother, if I were you."

It reminded me of Psycho, and how Norman Bates was "devoted" to his mother too. But we can see here that the boy is mentally starting to detach himself away from his surroundings. It seems as if he's fixed in his own world now, and nobody can help him. He wants to win, not for himself but possibly for both his mother, and to cease the noises from the wall.

Like how others have said, and depending on his age, we can determine that the author might have wanted to show the oedipus complex (an idea that was still a bit fresh when the story was first written) in affect.
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PostSubject: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Thu Sep 14, 2006 9:24 am

The event that hits the hardest is imaging the figure of this oversized kid on this little child's rocking-horse. I find it quite desturbing when i think of it. (Mildly gives me the same image as Cramier's action when he bet on a horse at the horse tracks). This oversized kid riding the horse even has his own horse wip, pretty intense.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Thu Sep 14, 2006 8:04 pm

I don't seem to find the relationship between the mother and son odd at all. I think the attitude of the mother and son occurs a lot because young children very often try to impress their parents. The mother seemed to crave the feeling of "self-worth." For example she always felt there was a shortage of money and tried to find a new career, but with no luck she was set up for failure. With such a desire for the feeling of "self-worth," it created an emptiness inside of her, which I think is to blame for her relationship with her son. Since she was so unsuccessful, I think it made it hard for her to really love her children.

Paul, in the conversation with his mother about luck, mentioned that he was a lucky person, but felt his mother didn't really believe him. His effort in proving to his mother that he was lucky represents his desire for his mother to love and care for him.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:39 pm

5. I would describe D.H. Lawrence's writing style as not necessarily simplistic, but for the time era and many works that I have tried to conquer from it, his style is much smoother to read. In addition, his style also seems to use psychology to keep it interesting. Personally, it's extremely difficult to find short stories like this interesting enough to keep me awake but his writing style does that. I really like it.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Sat Sep 16, 2006 12:16 am

I thought the relationship between the mother and the son was not a mutual relationship. It seemed like the mother didn't care for her son the way he did for her. She was too caught up in making money to care for her son. She was oblivious to what her son was trying to do for her. He was determined to find luck to stop the whispers and to make his mother proud of him. I think that because the fact that the mother did not have a strong loving relationship with her son, he ended up going insane. He kept rocking on the horse to find luck to make money inorder for his mother to be proud of him and to have that love that a mother and her son shares.
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PostSubject: Great Responses   Sat Sep 16, 2006 6:14 pm

These are terrific, insightful reactions to Lawrence's short story. For the future, and for students who have not yet posted, these are the kinds of responses that show a strong, thoughtful reading of the text. In essence, these are the kinds of responses that college professors will appreciate. Keep the good work. study

Mr. K
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PostSubject: Discussing Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner   Sat Sep 16, 2006 8:18 pm

Well, the relationship between the mother and her son is what sticks out the most in the story, and how the roles and the actions of them switch. In the beginning of the story the mother is trying to take care of her kids, but the shortage of money is making her insane. Meanwhile, Paul is just like any other boy who is playing and having fun. Then the boy wants to prove to his mom that he's lucky by winning all the money. That's when the roles of the two switch. Paul starts taking care of the family secretly giving money to them. The mother begins to become more care-free, going out to parties and the kid starts shredding himself up trying to know who will win the next race. Finally, the kid is pushed to the limit and dies.
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